Thursday, January 24, 2013

The HSP Journey To Understanding

A short while ago, I was browsing recent posts on a large and active HSP forum on Facebook. I was both amazed and moved by the vast array of questions, comments and experiences shared there.

As I kept reading-- and would occasionally come across a "pointed" opinion or two, it occurred to me that "where we are" on our individual journeys not only matters, but is extremely important.

In a group the size I was looking at-- almost 2000 fellow highly sensitive people-- some will have learned that they are this thing called "an HSP" just yesterday... while others might have been among the very first to pick up a copy of Elaine Aron's "The Highly Sensitive Person" when it was published, in 1996.

I was part of the web's very first group of HSPs, back in the early days. We thought it was "amazing" that there were a couple of dozen of us! Imagine that! Today there are groups and forums-- multiples of them-- with more than 2000 members.

But belonging to that first group doesn't "make me" anything... other than "an HSP." Having an old dog-eared copy of "The Highly Sensitive Person" from the first printing doesn't "make me" anything... other than "an HSP." Having kept this blog for over ten years doesn't "make me" anything... other than "an HSP with a blog."

And yet? It is extremely important for me to always stay mindful of the fact whereas I don't have "the answers," I have spent 15+ years asking "the questions." And it's my responsibility to not roll my eyes and grow impatient when someone asks a question I have already heard 3,000 times. And I must remember that I don't have THE answers... only MY answers.

I see many questions about "what is" and "what is not" part of being an HSP... and I am reminded that not only will our experiences differ based on how long we've been working on integrating the trait into our daily lives... they will differ based on who we are, as individuals. My fellow HSPs think/believe different things about what it means to be Highly Sensitive.

Are some "facts?" Sure.
Are some "opinions and theories?" Sure.
Are some "wishful thinking?" Sure.
Are some "just plain wrong?" Sure.

But asking questions and seeking answers represent the central part of the "journey to ourselves." I may be able to share information, but I can't teach wisdom... actual wisdom comes from within the student.

Much as we sometimes tend to think otherwise, let us not lose sight of the fact that HSPs are "unique and different people" just like everyone else in the world. The assumption that others are going to be "just like us" for no reason other than their also being HSPs is... well... not only wrong, but potentially hurtful, because it throws boxes and limitations around people. We may have similar interests... or not. We may have similar tastes... or not. We may have similar preferences... or not.

Last-- but not least-- I'd encourage those who have been "playing this gig for a long time" to sometimes pause and remember how they felt, when they'd just learned there was such a thing as a "highly sensitive person." And keep that feeling front and center, when evaluating whether or not to send off a "snappy" or impatient response to someone asking a simple question about the trait... for the first time.

It's all good. And it's all part of learning and being who we are...


Talk Back! Where are you, on your journey of exploring what it means to be an HSP? Are you learning things that surprised you?  Share your experience-- leave a comment!

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